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MSU students are on the cutting-edge of creating solutions to eliminate plastic waste

Posted at 5:45 PM, Jul 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-21 15:30:39-04

EAST LANSING, Mich. — With over 40 patents, a Michigan State University associate professor in the School of Packaging is working with his students to pioneer a path to zero waste.

From experimenting to testing to creating, Ph.D. student Sarla Yadav, rising junior Thomas Burns and research associate Mohamed Abdelwahab are all working at different levels of expertise but are collectively aiming to achieve a common goal of eliminating plastic waste.

“In the larger scheme, try to make something more sustainable than the current commercial brand of plastic,” explained Burns.

The commercial brand of plastic makes up items we use on a daily basis such as the plastic in bottles.

Through different measures of innovation such as paper coating, recycling and synthesizing, these students are striving to create materials that can be recycled and re-used again in hopes of contributing to a cleaner and healthier environment.

“Our target here is to use 8 billion pounds of this recycled material to be reused again,” stated Abdelwahab.

Furthermore, Muhammad Rabnawaz, associate professor in the School of Packaging, is not only at the helm of this mission but is dedicated to molding his students into high-level industry contributors.

“When they leave our group, they are ready to serve the nation globally and worldwide in the field of sustainability," stated Rabnawaz.

Not only are the students working toward one mission together, but they also shared ways that people in their communities can contribute in order to ensure that the country reaches the highest levels of sustainability.

"You can obviously do the three R’s...reduce...reuse...recycle, but you can also do your own work and try and invest in companies that maybe use the type of plastics that researchers like us are trying to bring out into the world," Burns stated.

The MSU School of Packaging continues to make daily strides in finding solutions to eliminating plastic waste and plans to continue their innovating and problem-solving to achieve a healthier and safer world.